Student Behavior Charts for Educators

Reinforcing Behaviors Conducive to Learning

By Courtney Lofgren, Learning Designer, Learning Design & Content Development ; Tiara Smith, Copywriter & Content Strategist

Working in constructive ways to manage student behavior is necessary to create a classroom environment that optimizes learning. Historically, behavior charts have been used to promote positive actions and curb undesirable behaviors, however, this tool is still missing a few important components. If you are currently using a traditional student behavior chart in your school, classroom, or district, our resident Learning Designer and former elementary school teacher, Courtney Lofgren, will show you how to enrich your approach. 

The Benefits of Behavioral Charts

Designed to decrease distractions in the classroom and increase the focus on learning, student behavior charts offer a wide variety of benefits. In its most basic form, these charts reward students for positive behavior, such as making progress on a specific skill or acting in alignment with the behavioral standards set by one’s school, district, or teacher. The pros of using this tool are as follows:

  • Maintaining order in the classroom: Student behavior charts reward adherence to behavioral standards, making it easier to maintain order in the classroom without the constant need for verbal reminders. This allows teachers and students to remain focused on the activities or tasks at hand.
  • Giving students a transparent indicator: Student behavior charts act as a visual display of progress in relation to one’s peers, which can allow students to support one another as they progress academically and socially.
  • Holding students accountable: This tool requires students to check off a list of tasks or acceptable behaviors, making it easier to hold them accountable. This can help students take accountability for their actions and take pride in the completion of tasks while enjoying incentives related to the actions they’ve taken.

The Cons of Student Behavior Charts

Though helpful, student behavior charts don’t always tell the full story or ensure that every student feels incentivized. Cons related to this tool include:

  • A narrow view: Student behavior charts provide a glimpse into a child’s behavior and performance, but it does not exactly paint the whole picture. There is still quite a bit of learning and development that takes place outside of what is monitored on the student behavior chart, so it isn’t the best indicator of all performance and behavior.
  • Emotional impact: Though the intention is to promote positive behaviors, this tool can negatively impact a student’s self-esteem. To some students, it can be seen as a public log of negative behavior that limits their participation in class due to feeling discouraged.
  • Intrinsic motivation: Due to the natural variance in motivational factors, student behavior charts can feel like a punishment for students that are not naturally motivated by the predetermined incentives. This can discourage them from wanting to participate entirely. 

Tips to Supplement Your Student Behavior Chart

Student behavior charts are helpful for some, but this tool alone won’t always produce the desired result(s). Here are a few tips from Courtney Lofgren to address the cons and improve positive behavior in your classroom.

  1. Build relationships with students: Students are more likely to thrive, behaviorally and academically, in classrooms where they feel safe, valued, seen, and respected. Teachers play a central role in creating this environment, and it starts with getting to know their students. Building sound relationships with your students allows you to understand what motivates them, what challenges them, and what their strengths are, enabling you to effectively reinforce behavior. Here are a few tips to get started:
    • Get to know student interests and incorporate them into learning experiences
    • Tell your students about your interests to allow them to get to know you while promoting a level of comfort
    • Encourage students to share what they are excited to experience outside of the classroom
    • Lead by example and model the behavior that you expect from your students
    • Choose your words carefully when telling your students what you expect from them, and be sure to state what you want rather than what you don’t want to see from them
  2. Create clear routines and follow through on expectations: Student behavior may be inconsistent in classrooms where students are unsure about the processes, procedures, and expectations that lead to successful learning. As educators, it is important that we teach our expectations for behavior, establish daily routines, and give students opportunities to practice.
  3. If you are currently establishing routines and expectations in your classroom, we have tools that can help! Foundations A-Z and Writing A-Z help educators establish learning routines and expectations by following a gradual release model of instruction. Using this model, learning takes place in the following three phases:
    • I Do: During this phase, teachers model and explicitly teach new skills
    • We Do: This phase allows students time for guided practice to reinforce the skills they’ve learned
    • You Do: Students are provided an opportunity to apply what they have learned independently, demonstrating their understanding

    Teachers can follow a similar approach by:

    • Modeling the preferred behavior by explicitly demonstrating how to submit an assignment
    • Encouraging students to practice submitting an assignment to receive constructive feedback and support
    • Helping students implement this routine when they complete independent assignments
    • Revisiting academic and behavioral expectations following the process above should students veer off-track
  4. Teach students the skills and competencies for success: Students come to the classroom with differences in academic knowledge and behavioral skills. It is important to create a level playing field of behavioral knowledge to ensure that each student is set up for success. Social-emotional learning is a type of knowledge that helps students make better choices, builds positive relationships, and regulates emotions and behaviors to create an environment that is conducive to learning and comfort.
  5. As you work to build social-emotional learning skills in your classroom, school, or district, you can take a look at the Mindful Reading Teacher portion of the Foundations A-Z Program Guide. It includes guidelines for implementing social-emotional learning skills and competencies associated with long-term academic and social success. In addition, teachers can enhance social-emotional learning by utilizing Meaningful Conversations in Raz-Plus. This tool helps teachers and students dissect specific topics in an age-appropriate way, creating an understanding of what behaviors are positively associated with these concepts. Teachers can then use this information to encourage collaboration, respect, and reflection.

  6. Allow students to make choices: Some students become frustrated when they do not have any sense of autonomy over their learning, which can manifest as disruptive behavior. Teachers can foster student autonomy by incorporating learning experiences that provide opportunities for students to make choices.
  7. Promote autonomy by utilizing the vast catalog of books, passages, and other texts within Raz-Plus. Filled with many texts to appeal to student needs and interests, Raz-Plus offers a Themed Nonfiction Series, graphic books, Close Read Passages, and other rich resources that are easy to assign, allowing you to work with students to determine which texts will be the best fit for learning.

Enhancing Your Student Behavior Chart

Effective classroom management is essential to creating an optimal learning environment. As you work to refine your student behavior chart and enhance classroom management as a whole, keep these tips in mind and consider Learning A-Z as your partner in learning.

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  1. Mcintosh, Kent, et al. “DITCH THE CLIP! Why Clip Charts Are Not a PBIS Practice and What to Do Instead.” Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, Feb. 2020, pp. 1–6.
  2. Holland, Adam L., and Kathryn A. Ohle. “‘How Can I Help You?’: Reconsidering Behavior Management.” Young Children, vol. 75, no. 2, May 2020. 
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